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SANFL clubs swoop on ex-AFL talent

Harry Thring, AFL Media  January 8, 2016 8:28 PM

Former Crow Brodie Martin will represent Sturt in the SANFL next season

Former Crow Brodie Martin will represent Sturt in the SANFL next season

As well as the obvious talent that former AFL players possess, their experience in an elite system can prove invaluable at SANFL level.

Of course a disciplined mindset is still required; plenty of ex-AFL players have been unable to make their mark on what remains a very strong competition. But for those who do, the dividends for their club's and their careers are massive.

Players who have been discarded from elite clubs drop down armed with the knowledge of what held them back, so to correct trouble areas and perform in front of AFL recruits is to demand a second chance at the top.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide's sides have been excluded from the following list of ex-AFL recruits entering the SA state league this year, given their recruits from AFL clubs remain AFL-listed. 

IN: Elliott Kavanagh (Essendon), Nick Holman (Carlton)

After a return to finals football in 2015, the Bulldogs have added two young midfielders to their group in 22-year-old Kavanagh and 20-year-old Holman. Both have time to take stock and impress at SANFL level with an eye on a future in the AFL and in Roy Laird they have a brilliantly disciplined coach to play for. Holman's tackling ability will flourish at Elizabeth, while Kavanagh – a first-round draft pick back in 2011 – will also be keen to heavily influence games at the lower level.

IN: Jordie McKenzie (Melbourne), Matt McDonough (Richmond), Mitch Harvey (Port Adelaide)

The Roosters were sub-par last year and with the aim of snapping a 17-game losing streak in round one, cleared the list and recruited some big bodies. McKenzie has the size and experience (79 AFL matches with the Demons) to dominate at SANFL level and has impressed so far this pre-season. McDonough adds class to the high forward line while Harvey returns to the full-forward line at Prospect from the Power.

IN: Matt Fuller (Western Bulldogs), Anthony Wilson (Adelaide)

The Redlegs missed the grand final in 2015 after three-straight flags from 2012-2014, so the return of premiership players Fuller and Wilson is well timed. Making use of a lethal left leg, Fuller was a star for the side in 2012-13 and his form led to his drafting by the Bulldogs, although he did not play a senior game in his time there. Wilson will have benefited from a year at Adelaide and if he can find consistency in his game, his speed could tear opposition teams apart.

Matt Fuller (right) will return to the SANFL after two years at the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Media

IN: Tom Fields (Carlton)

Although incredibly athletic, Fields' year with the Blues didn't go exactly to plan so he'll reunite with the Panthers. South has made vast improvements in recent seasons and Field's powerful left boot will be a welcome addition to the backline. His versatility might even see him drift forward at times in 2016. 

IN: Scott McMahon (North Melbourne), Brodie Martin (Adelaide), Aidan Riley (Melbourne), Jack Osborn (Adelaide).

Some way off a finals appearance last year, Sturt will hope the recruitment of four players from the elite level can propel the club into the top five. Double Blues fans know exactly what to expect from Martin and Riley – both have played plenty of high-class football at Unley over the years. With the retirement of the club's No.1 ruckman, Osborn is a perfect fit, while veteran McMahon will add leadership and experience to the club's back half.

IN: Nick O'Brien (Essendon), Jarrad Redden (Port Adelaide), Cameron Giles (Carlton)

Redden is a big inclusion for the Eagles and despite his inability to push back into Power selection, he has the skill and size to be one of the competition's leading ruckmen this season. Giles is likely to play as a key defender or up forward after two injury-ruined years at Carlton. His endurance could also allow him to play higher up the field. O'Brien is another big-bodied midfielder who, at just 22, still has plenty of development left in him. A strong year or two in the SANFL could help him return to the AFL ranks.

Nick O'Brien impressed at times with Essendon during 2015. Picture: AFL Media